Born in a traditional Indian family, the youngest of three daughters and a son, Geet spent her childhood in Africa, India and the US, playing with dolls and video games, as well as running around with her siblings. Like any other child, she was talkative and active. But all that was set to change when she turned ten. One moment, Geet was sleeping in the back seat of her car, with no worries, and the next moment, when she woke up, there were ambulances all around. Her life as she knew it changed after an accident. She recalls, “Doctors told my parents that I would never walk again. I suffered a spinal cord injury and was paralysed from the waist. Unable to feel or move my legs, I was confined to a wheelchair.”
It was not only physical trauma that Geet went through- she immediately spiralled into depression. The shock was so intense that she doesn’t really remember much of it. “But, my mom tells me that I used to cry all the time because I felt my life was over,” she says adding, “My dreams were shattered. I would never be able to be or do anything by myself. I would be an invalid for the rest of my life. Everywhere I went, people stared at me and felt sorry for me. I felt sorry for myself” she states. Through her difficult phase, her family stood rock solid behind her helping her to overcome her depressive phase. “Even when I thought, ‘I can't,’ my family kept encouraging me that ‘I can’.”
The hardest part was facing a society that is often cruel and ruthless. Geet lays bare the assumptions society had. “A lot of times when someone is in a wheelchair, it is automatically assumed that they are helpless and their life is over. I could have believed that stereotype and thought that I can’t do anything anymore, that I can’t be what I wanted to be. But instead, I believed that though I couldn't use my legs anymore, I could still use my arms, eyes, ears, mouth and smile. I could still use so many things to accomplish my dreams. Instead of thinking ‘I can't,’ I believed that ‘with the help of God I can’. And I continue to believe that.”
That belief gave her the wings to fly high and do the impossible. She became an engineer in the US. Geet could have been content but no — she wanted to do something bigger. She wanted to make a difference and change the world and leave a lasting impact. So she changed tracks, “I switched careers from Engineering to Law. I thought, as a lawyer I could help people. And I did. I worked on several pro bono cases free of charge. But it wasn't enough. I volunteered at homeless shelters, the juvenile jail, hospitals, schools, community centers. But it still wasn't enough.”
A few years ago, she left everything to move to India to work with slum children full time and hasn't looked back. Again that has not been an easy journey. “I faced setbacks and at times felt disheartened. But, every time I drive up to a slum and see the children smiling from ear to ear and hear them begin to sing didi aagayi, didi aagayi. I am revived and ready to continue my work” she smiles.
Geet runs an NGO to help underprivileged children and at-risk youth. “Every week I teach positive values like ethical behaviour, helping others, stranger danger, reporting abuse, etc. to several hundred underprivileged children,” she says.
Other than her NGO works,which keep her busy, Geet has also taken baby steps to fulfil a dream she nurtures — acting. She acts in and posts short films on her official Facebook page based on real-life situations she sees around her, or that are conveyed to her by her viewers. Her page has 5,239,929 followers which reflects the popularity of her films.
“Once we have a topic, we research to figure out the statistics and practical aspects behind the issues and then turn it into a short film or video. Every day I receive many messages from viewers telling me how these films are helping them in their lives. These messages keep me going,” she explains.
Here again, her dream to become an actor was welcomed by a crown of thorns. “In fact, even now, when I tell people I want to be an actress, many people suggest, direction or production. For many of them, this is a new concept — an actress in a wheelchair. But I am determined to make it a reality. I do realise that practically speaking, there are a very few, if any, roles for disabled actors in cinema today. So, going for traditional auditions is not really an option for me. That is part of the reason I have taken the help of social media, to raise awareness and showcase my talent. I hope that as word spreads maybe someone in the film industry will take note and give me a chance for at least an audition,” Geet reveals.
Talking of her motto, she says, “Concentrate on what you can do, rather than on what you can't do, and God will make all things possible. So, I choose to focus on my abilities and my strengths and capitalise on them. And I believe in the power of prayer. I think everyone in this world has inabilities, things we can't do. My inabilities are obvious” she says before ending with, “I know it will not be an easy path, but there are two magic words that will help me overcome all hurdles to reach my goal. And they are ‘I can’.”...